by Justin Byram, special to Breaking Burgundy
We began our look at “Scot McCloughan” type players ahead of the upcoming NFL Draft with offensive prospects. Before we obviously get to the defense, let's discuss what we mean by McCloughan type player.
Well, if you look at McCloughan’s first three picks as General Manager of the Washington Redskins, it would appear that big, strong, fast prospects who played big time college football (two SEC and one Big 10 prospects selected. Those three selections of course are: Brandon Scherff, Preston Smith, and Matt Jones. All three prospects enjoyed successful rookie seasons and played a big role on the Skins late season push for the post season.
So which prospects of the 2016 NFL draft class fit the “McCloughan mold” the best? We take a look at every position to find out.
Defensive Tackle: Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech
If you’ve read any of my mock drafts or follow my twitter account, you already know how large of a draft crush I have on Butler. The Louisiana Tech product is simply a perfect fit in the Redskins hybrid 3-4/4-3 defensive front, and his versatility will allow him to be a chess piece defensive coordinator Joe Barry can use in multiple ways. Butler carries his 323 pounds phenomenally well, and shows the necessary burst and high motor to be an impact player against the run and rushing the passer. Butler has the potential to step in day one and be a solid starter, but he has the potential to develop into a pro-bowl caliber disruptive defensive lineman.
Defensive end: Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
Jenkins would be more of a 4-3 defensive end and outside linebacker than a 3-4 defensive end, but he is one of my favorite “Scot McCloughan” type players of the entire draft. Jenkins is versatile enough to play from multiple positions in the Redskins scheme, but no matter where you line up Jenkins from he is going to hit you, and hit you hard. Jenkins packs a powerful punch off the line of scrimmage, and is a passionate player who can really lay the boom on opponents. A senior captain with strong leadership skills, Jenkins fits the “football player” mold McCloughan is searching for.
Outside linebacker: Shaquille Lawson, Clemson
Shaq Lawson reminds me a lot of the Redskins second round pick from a year ago, Preston Smith. Lawson may not be the fastest edge rusher of the class, but he’s big (269 pounds) and moves reasonably well for his size, packing a solid punch off the line of scrimmage combined with a spin move and solid hand technique. Lawson will likely be gone before the Redskins are on the clock, but the Clemson product is the type of player that McCloughan would love to add to the Redskins roster.
Inside Linebacker: Reggie Ragland, Alabama
Ragland was actually the inspiration for this entire article, partly because he fit’s the McCloughan mold to a T, and because I think he may be the defensive version of Brandon Scherff. Ragland wouldn’t be a sexy pick, but he would give you a thumper and leader in the middle for years. Ragland is a leader and durable player who enjoyed four successful seasons in the SEC, including earning the SEC defensive player of the year honor his senior year. Ragland is a big, tough, football player who eats, breathes, and sleeps thinking about football. Ultimately, I think the former Crimson Tide star could be the call at 21 if he is still on the board when the Redskins are on the clock.
Cornerback: Cyrus Jones, Alabama
Jones will get knocked due to his smaller frame (5’10 197), however, the Alabama product certainly doesn’t play small. Jones uses good technique and his fiery competitiveness to be a disruptive force against the pass, defending big time receivers who often had measurables far greater than his in the SEC. Jones is instinctive, and his loose hips which leads me to believe he can develop into an absolute stud as a slot corner. His added returner ability is just the cherry on top for a very good prospect that Scot McCloughan is sure to have his eye on heading into the draft.
Free Safety: Karl Joseph, West Virginia
Often labeled a “poor man’s Earl Thomas”, Joseph does measure up favorably to the former Texas product who McCloughan helped draft in Seattle. Despite his smaller frame, Joseph delivers some of the most bone-rattling hits of any prospect, at any position in this class. Joseph shows good range and ball skills in space, and generally takes good angles against the run, making him versatile enough to play free or strong safety, as well as slot corner in nickel or dime coverages. Joseph’s recovery from a torn ACL seems to be on schedule, firmly putting him in the first round conversation. As high as 21? It is certainly possible in my mind.
Strong Safety: Jeremy Cash, Duke
Cash played a hybrid linebacker/safety position at Duke, which makes it difficult to fully evaluate how well he would hold up in coverage at the next level. However, everything Cash was asked to do, he did at an extremely high level. Cash is a smart prospect who uses his phenomenal instincts to make up for his lack of elite speed. Cash is just a flat out football player, who is always around the ball and has a knack for making a big play at the right time. A senior leader, it is unclear exactly what his role will be at the next level, but one things for sure, the team that drafts Cash will be a better football team with his addition.
Follow Justin on Twitter @justin_byram
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